Memorials and Other Papers V2
Thomas de Quincey

Part 2 out of 5

miles, many of them capable of resisting a sudden _coup-de-main_,
and resolutely closing their gates upon either party, had already
possessed themselves by purchase of all the surplus supplies which the
country yielded. In such a state of things, the wild deer became an
object of valuable consideration to all parties, and a murderous war
was made upon them from every side of the forest. From the city walls
they were seen in sweeping droves, flying before the Swedish cavalry
for a course of ten, fifteen, or even thirty miles, until headed and
compelled to turn by another party breaking suddenly from a covert,
where they had been waiting their approach. Sometimes it would happen
that this second party proved to be a body of imperialists, who were
carried by the ardor of the chase into the very centre of their enemies
before either was aware of any hostile approach. Then, according to
circumstances, came sudden flight or tumultuary skirmish; the woods
rang with the hasty summons of the trumpet; the deer reeled off aslant
from the furious shock, and, benefiting for the moment by those fierce
hostilities, originally the cause of their persecution, fled far away
from the scene of strife; and not unfrequently came thundering beneath
the city walls, and reporting to the spectators above, by their
agitation and affrighted eyes, those tumultuous disturbances in some
remoter part of the forest, which had already reached them in an
imperfect way, by the interrupted and recurring echoes of the points of
war--charges or retreats--sounded upon the trumpet.

But, whilst on the outside of her walls Klosterheim beheld even this
unpopulous region all alive with military license and outrage, she
suffered no violence from either party herself. This immunity she owed
to her peculiar political situation. The emperor had motives for
conciliating the city; the Swedes, for conciliating the Landgrave;
indeed, they were supposed to have made a secret alliance with him, for
purposes known only to the contracting parties. And the difference
between the two patrons was simply this: that the emperor was sincere,
and, if not disinterested, had an interest concurring with that of
Klosterheim in the paternal protection which he offered; whereas the
Swedes, in this, as in all their arrangements, regarding Germany as a
foreign country, looked only to the final advantages of Sweden, or its
German dependences, and to the weight which such alliances would
procure them in a general pacification. And hence, in the war which
both combined to make upon the forest, the one party professed to
commit spoil upon the Landgrave, as distinguished from the city; whilst
the Swedish allies of that prince prosecuted their ravages in the
Landgrave's name, as essential to the support of his cause.

For the present, however, the Swedes were the preponderant party in the
neighborhood; they had fortified the chateau of Falkenberg, and made it
a very strong military post; at the same time, however, sending in to
Klosterheim whatsoever was valuable amongst the furniture of that
establishment, with a care which of itself proclaimed the footing upon
which they were anxious to stand with the Landgrave.

Encouraged by the vicinity of his military friends, that prince now
began to take a harsher tone in Klosterheim. The minor princes of
Germany at that day were all tyrants in virtue of their privileges; and
if in some rarer cases they exercised these privileges in a forbearing
spirit, their subjects were well aware that they were indebted for this
extraordinary indulgence to the temper and gracious nature of the
individual, not to the firm protection of the laws. But the most
reasonable and mildest of the German princes had been little taught at
that day to brook opposition. And the Landgrave was by nature, and the
gloominess of his constitutional temperament, of all men the last to
learn that lesson readily. He had already met with just sufficient
opposition from the civic body and the university interest to excite
his passion for revenge. Ample indemnification he determined upon for
his wounded pride; and he believed that the time and circumstances were
now matured for favoring his most vindictive schemes. The Swedes were
at hand, and a slight struggle with the citizens would remove all
obstacles to their admission into the garrison; though, for some
private reasons, he wished to abstain from this extremity, if it should
prove possible. Maximilian also was absent, and might never return. The
rumor was even that he was killed; and though the caution of Adorni and
the Landgrave led them to a hesitating reliance upon what might be a
political fabrication of the opposite party, yet at all events he was
detained from Klosterheim by some pressing necessity; and the period of
his absence, whether long or short, the Landgrave resolved to improve
in such a way as should make his return unavailing.

Of Maximilian the Landgrave had no personal knowledge; he had not so
much as seen him. But by his spies and intelligencers he was well aware
that he had been the chief combiner and animater of the imperial party
against himself in the university, and by his presence had given life
and confidence to that party in the city which did not expressly
acknowledge him as their head. He was aware of the favor which
Maximilian enjoyed with the emperor, and knew in general, from public
report, the brilliancy of those military services on which it had been
built. That he was likely to prove a formidable opponent, had he
continued in Klosterheim, the Landgrave knew too well; and upon the
advantage over him which he had now gained, though otherwise it should
prove only a temporary one, he determined to found a permanent obstacle
to the emperor's views. As a preliminary step, he prepared to crush all
opposition in Klosterheim; a purpose which was equally important to his
vengeance and his policy.

This system he opened with a series of tyrannical regulations, some of
which gave the more offence that they seemed wholly capricious and
insulting. The students were confined to their college bounds, except
at stated intervals; were subject to a military muster, or calling over
of names, every evening; were required to receive sentinels within the
extensive courts of their own college, and at length a small court of
guard; with numerous other occasional marks, as opportunities offered,
of princely discountenance and anger.

In the university, at that time, from local causes, many young men of
rank and family were collected. Those even who had taken no previous
part in the cause of the Klosterheimers were now roused to a sense of
personal indignity. And as soon as the light was departed, a large body
of them collected at the rooms of Count St. Aldenheim, whose rank
promised a suitable countenance to their purpose, whilst his youth
seemed a pledge for the requisite activity.

The count was a younger brother of the Palsgrave of Birkenfeld, and
maintained a sumptuous establishment in Klosterheim. Whilst the state
of the forest had allowed of hunting, hawking, or other amusements, no
man had exhibited so fine a stud of horses. No man had so large a train
of servants; no man entertained his friends with such magnificent
hospitalities. His generosity, his splendor, his fine person, and the
courtesy with which he relieved the humblest people from the oppression
of his rank, had given him a popularity amongst the students. His
courage had been tried in battle: but, after all, it was doubted
whether he were not of too luxurious a turn to undertake any cause
which called for much exertion; for the death of a rich abbess, who had
left the whole of an immense fortune to the count, as her favorite
nephew, had given him another motive for cultivating peaceful pursuits,
to which few men were, constitutionally, better disposed.

It was the time of day when the count was sure to be found at home with
a joyous party of friends. Magnificent chandeliers shed light upon a
table furnished with every description of costly wines produced in
Europe. According to the custom of the times, these were drunk in cups
of silver or gold; and an opportunity was thus gained, which St.
Aldenheim had not lost, of making a magnificent display of luxury
without ostentation. The ruby wine glittered in the jewelled goblet
which the count had raised to his lips, at the very moment when the
students entered.

"Welcome, friends," said the Count St. Aldenheim, putting down his cup,
"welcome always; but never more than at this hour, when wine and good
fellowship teach us to know the value of our youth."

"Thanks, count, from all of us. But the fellowship we seek at present
must be of another temper; our errand is of business."

"Then, friends, it shall rest until to-morrow. Not for the Papacy, to
which my good aunt would have raised a ladder for me of three steps,--
Abbot, Bishop, Cardinal,--would I renounce the Tokay of to-night for
the business of to-morrow. Come, gentlemen, let us drink my aunt's

"Memory, you would say, count."

"Memory, most learned friend,--you are right. Ah! gentlemen, she was a
woman worthy to be had in remembrance: for she invented a capital
plaster for gunshot wounds; and a jollier old fellow over a bottle of
Tokay there is not at this day in Suabia, or in the Swedish camp. And
that reminds me to ask, gentlemen, have any of you heard that Gustavus
Horn is expected at Falkenberg? Such news is astir; and be sure of
this--that, in such a case, we have cracked crowns to look for. I know
the man. And many a hard night's watching he has cost me; for which, if
you please, gentlemen, we will drink his health."

"But our business, dear count--"

"Shall wait, please God, until to-morrow; for this is the time when man
and beast repose."

"And truly, count, we are like--as you take things--to be numbered with
the last. Fie, Count St. Aldenheim! are you the man that would have us
suffer those things tamely which the Landgrave has begun?"

"And what now hath his serenity been doing? Doth he meditate to abolish
Burgundy? If so, my faith! but we are, as you observe, little above the
brutes. Or, peradventure, will he forbid laughing,--his highness being
little that way given himself?"

"Count St. Aldenheim! it pleases you to jest. But we are assured that
you know as well as we, and relish no better, the insults which the
Landgrave is heaping upon us all. For example, the sentinel at your own
door--doubtless you marked him? How liked you him?--"

"Methought he looked cold and blue. So I sent him a goblet of

"You did? and the little court of guard--you have seen _that?_ and
Colonel von Aremberg, how think you of him?"

"Why surely now he's a handsome man: pity he wears so fiery a scarf!
Shall we drink his health, gentlemen?"

"Health to the great fiend first!"

"As you please, gentlemen: it is for you to regulate the precedency.
But at least,

Here's to my aunt--the jolly old sinner,
That fasted each day, from breakfast to dinner!
Saw any man yet such an orthodox fellow,
In the morning when sober, in the evening when mellow?
Saw any man yet," etc.

"Count, farewell!" interrupted the leader of the party; and all turned
round indignantly to leave the room.

"Farewell, gentlemen, as you positively will not drink my aunt's
health; though, after all, she was a worthy fellow; and her plaster for
gunshot wounds--"

But with that word the door closed upon the count's farewell words.
Suddenly taking up a hat which lay upon the ground, he exclaimed, "Ah!
behold! one of my friends has left his hat. Truly he may chance to want
it on a frosty night." And, so saying, he hastily rushed after the
party, whom he found already on the steps of the portico. Seizing the
hand of the leader, he whispered,

"Friend! do you know me so little as to apprehend my jesting in a
serious sense? Know that two of those whom you saw on my right hand are
spies of the Landgrave. Their visit to me, I question not, was
purposely made to catch some such discoveries as you, my friends, would
too surely have thrown in their way, but for my determined rattling. At
this time, I must not stay. Come again after midnight--farewell."

And then, in a voice to reach his guests within, he shouted,
"Gentlemen, my aunt, the abbot of Ingelheim,--abbess, I would say,--
held that her spurs were for her heels, and her beaver for her head.
Whereupon, baron, I return you your hat."

Meantime, the two insidious intelligencers of the Landgrave returned to
the palace with discoveries, not so ample as they were on the point of
surprising, but sufficient to earn thanks for themselves, and to guide
the counsels of their master.


That same night a full meeting of the most distinguished students was
assembled at the mansion of Count St. Aldenheim. Much stormy discussion
arose upon two points. First, upon the particular means by which they
were to pursue an end upon which all were unanimous. Upon that,
however, they were able for the present to arrive at a preliminary
arrangement with sufficient harmony. This was to repair in a body, with
Count St. Aldenheim at their head, to the castle, and there to demand
an audience of the Landgrave, at which a strong remonstrance was to be
laid before his highness, and their determination avowed to repel the
indignities thrust upon them, with their united forces. On the second
they were more at variance. It happened that many of the persons
present, and amongst them Count St. Aldenheim, were friends of
Maximilian. A few, on the other hand, there were, who, either from
jealousy of his distinguished merit, hated him; or, as good citizens of
Klosterheim, and connected by old family ties with the interests of
that town, were disposed to charge Maximilian with ambitious views of
private aggrandizement, at the expense of the city, grounded upon the
emperor's favor, or upon a supposed marriage with some lady of the
imperial house. For the story of Paulina's and Maximilian's mutual
attachment had transpired through many of the travellers; but with some
circumstances of fiction. In defending Maximilian upon those charges,
his friends had betrayed a natural warmth at the injustice offered to
his character; and the liveliness of the dispute on this point had
nearly ended in a way fatal to their unanimity on the immediate
question at issue. Good sense, however, and indignation at the
Landgrave, finally brought them round again to their first resolution;
and they separated with the unanimous intention of meeting at noon on
the following day, for the purpose of carrying it into effect.

But their unanimity on this point was of little avail; for at an early
hour on the following morning every one of those who had been present
at the meeting was arrested by a file of soldiers, on a charge of
conspiracy, and marched off to one of the city prisons. The Count St.
Aldenheim was himself the sole exception; and this was a distinction
odious to his generous nature, as it drew upon him a cloud of
suspicion. He was sensible that he would be supposed to owe his
privilege to some discovery or act of treachery, more or less, by which
he had merited the favor of the Landgrave. The fact was, that in the
indulgence shown to the count no motive had influenced the Landgrave
but a politic consideration of the great favor and influence which the
count's brother, the Palsgrave, at this moment enjoyed in the camp of
his own Swedish allies. On this principle of policy, the Landgrave
contented himself with placing St. Aldenheim under a slight military
confinement to his own house, under the guard of a few sentinels posted
in his hall.

For _him_, therefore, under the powerful protection which he
enjoyed elsewhere, there was no great anxiety entertained. But for the
rest, many of whom had no friends, or friends who did them the ill
service of enemies, being in fact regarded as enemies by the Landgrave
and his council, serious fears were entertained by the whole city.
Their situation was evidently critical. The Landgrave had them in his
power. He was notoriously a man of gloomy and malignant passions; had
been educated, as all European princes then were, in the notions of a
plenary and despotic right over the lives of his subjects, in any case
where they lifted their presumptuous thoughts to the height of
controlling the sovereign; and, even in circumstances which to his own
judgment might seem to confer much less discretionary power over the
rights of prisoners, he had been suspected of directing the course of
law and of punishment into channels that would not brook the public
knowledge. Darker dealings were imputed to him in the popular opinion.
Gloomy suspicions were muttered at the fireside, which no man dared
openly to avow; and in the present instance the conduct of the
Landgrave was every way fitted to fall in with the worst of the public
fears. At one time he talked of bringing his prisoners to a trial; at
another, he countermanded the preparations which he had made with that
view. Sometimes he spoke of banishing them in a body; and again he
avowed his intention to deal with their crime as treason. The result of
this moody and capricious tyranny was to inspire the most vague and
gloomy apprehensions into the minds of the prisoners, and to keep their
friends, with the whole city of Klosterheim, in a feverish state of

This state of things lasted for nearly three weeks; but at length a
morning of unexpected pleasure dawned upon the city. The prisoners were
in one night all released. In half an hour the news ran over the town
and the university; multitudes hastened to the college, anxious to
congratulate the prisoners on their deliverance from the double
afflictions of a dungeon and of continual insecurity. Mere curiosity
also prompted some, who took but little interest in the prisoners or
their cause, to inquire into the circumstances of so abrupt and
unexpected an act of grace. One principal court in the college was
filled with those who had come upon this errand of friendly interest or
curiosity. Nothing was to be seen but earnest and delighted faces,
offering or acknowledging congratulation; nothing to be heard but the
language of joy and pleasure--friendly or affectionate, according to
the sex or relation of the speaker. Some were talking of procuring
passports for leaving the town; some anticipating that this course
would not be left to their own choice, but imposed, as the price of his
clemency, by the Landgrave. All, in short, was hubbub and joyous
uproar, when suddenly a file of the city guard, commanded by an
officer, made their way rudely and violently through the crowd,
advancing evidently to the spot where the liberated prisoners were
collected in a group. At that moment the Count St. Aldenheim was
offering his congratulations. The friends to whom he spoke were too
confident in his honor and integrity to have felt even one moment's
misgiving upon the true causes which had sheltered him from the
Landgrave's wrath, and had thus given him a privilege so invidious in
the eyes of those who knew him not, and on that account so hateful in
his own. They knew his unimpeachable fidelity to the cause and
themselves, and were anxiously expressing their sense of it by the
warmth of their salutations at the very moment when the city guard
appeared. The count, on his part, was gayly reminding them to come that
evening and fulfil their engagement to drink his aunt of jovial memory
in her own Johannisberg, when the guard, shouldering aside the crowd,
advanced, and, surrounding the group of students, in an instant laid
the hands of summary arrest each upon the gentleman who stood next him.
The petty officer who commanded made a grasp at one of the most
distinguished in dress, and seized rudely upon the gold chain depending
from his neck. St. Aldenheim, who happened at the moment to be in
conversation with this individual, stung with a sudden indignation at
the ruffian eagerness of the men in thus abusing the privileges of
their office, and unable to control the generous ardor of his nature,
met this brutal outrage with a sudden blow at the officer's face,
levelled with so true an aim, that it stretched him at his length upon
the ground. No terrors of impending vengeance, had they been a thousand
times stronger than they were, could at this moment have availed to
stifle the cry of triumphant pleasure--long, loud, and unfaltering--
which indignant sympathy with the oppressed extorted from the crowd.
The pain and humiliation of the blow, exalted into a maddening
intensity by this popular shout of exultation, quickened the officer's
rage into an apparent frenzy. With white lips, and half suffocated with
the sudden revulsion of passion, natural enough to one who had never
before encountered even a momentary overture at opposition to the
authority with which he was armed, and for the first time in his life
found his own brutalities thrown back resolutely in his teeth, the man
rose, and, by signs rather than the inarticulate sounds which he meant
for words, pointed the violence of his party upon the Count St.
Aldenheim. With halberds bristling around him, the gallant young
nobleman was loudly summoned to surrender; but he protested
indignantly, drawing his sword and placing himself in an attitude of
defence, that he would die a thousand deaths sooner than surrender the
sword of his father, the Palsgrave, a prince of the empire, of
unspotted honor, and most ancient descent, into the hands of a jailer.

"Jailer!" exclaimed the officer, almost howling with passion.

"Why, then, captain of jailers, lieutenant, anspessade, or what you
will. What else than a jailer is he that sits watch upon the prison-
doors of honorable cavaliers?" Another shout of triumph applauded St.
Aldenheim; for the men who discharged the duties of the city guard at
that day, or "petty guard," as it was termed, corresponding in many of
their functions to the modern police, were viewed with contempt by all
parties; and most of all by the military, though in some respects
assimilated to them by discipline and costume. They were industriously
stigmatized as jailers; for which there was the more ground, as their
duties did in reality associate them pretty often with the jailer; and
in other respects they were a dissolute and ferocious body of men,
gathered not out of the citizens, but many foreign deserters, or
wretched runagates from the jail, or from the justice of the provost-
marshal in some distant camp. Not a man, probably, but was liable to be
reclaimed, in some or other quarter of Germany, as a capital
delinquent. Sometimes, even, they were actually detected, claimed, and
given up to the pursuit of justice, when it happened that the subjects
of their criminal acts were weighty enough to sustain an energetic
inquiry. Hence their reputation became worse than scandalous: the
mingled infamy of their calling, and the houseless condition of
wretchedness which had made it worth their acceptance, combined to
overwhelm them with public scorn; and this public abhorrence, which at
any rate awaited them, mere desperation led them too often to
countenance and justify by their conduct.

"Captain of jailers! do your worst, I say," again ejaculated St.
Aldenheim. Spite of his blinding passion, the officer hesitated to
precipitate himself into a personal struggle with the count, and thus,
perhaps, afford his antagonist an occasion for a further triumph. But
loudly and fiercely he urged on his followers to attack him. These
again, not partaking in the personal wrath of their leader, even whilst
pressing more and more closely upon St. Aldenheim, and calling upon him
to surrender, scrupled to inflict a wound, or too marked an outrage,
upon a cavalier whose rank was known to the whole city, and of late
most advantageously known for his own interests, by the conspicuous
immunity which it had procured him from the Landgrave. In vain did the
commanding officer insist, in vain did the count defy; menaces from
neither side availed to urge the guard into any outrage upon the person
of one who might have it in his power to retaliate so severely upon
themselves. They continued obstinately at a stand, simply preventing
his escape, when suddenly the tread of horses' feet arose upon the ear,
and through a long vista were discovered a body of cavalry from the
castle coming up at a charging pace to the main entrance of the
college. Without pulling up on the outside, as hitherto they had always
done, they expressed sufficiently the altered tone of the Landgrave's
feelings towards the old chartered interests of Klosterheim, by
plunging through the great archway of the college-gates; and then
making way at the same furious pace through the assembled crowds, who
broke rapidly away to the right and to the left, they reined up
directly abreast of the city guard and their prisoners.

"Colonel von Aremberg!" said St. Aldenheim, "I perceive your errand. To
a soldier I surrender myself; to this tyrant of dungeons, who has
betrayed more men, and cheated more gibbets of their due, than ever he
said _aves_, I will never lend an ear, though he should bear the
orders of every Landgrave in Germany."

"You do well," replied the colonel; "but for this man, count, he bears
no orders from any Landgrave, nor will ever again bear orders from the
Landgrave of X----. Gentlemen, you are all my prisoners; and you will
accompany me to the castle. Count St. Aldenheim, I am sorry that there
is no longer an exemption for yourself. Please to advance. If it will
be any gratification to you, these men" (pointing to the city guard)
"are prisoners also."

Here was a revolution of fortune that confounded everybody. The
detested guardians of the city jail were themselves to tenant it; or,
by a worse fate still, were to be consigned unpitied, and their case
unjudged, to the dark and pestilent dungeons which lay below the
Landgrave's castle. A few scattered cries of triumph were heard from
the crowd; but they were drowned in a tumult of conflicting feelings.
As human creatures, fallen under the displeasure of a despot with a
judicial power of torture to enforce his investigations, even
_they_ claimed some compassion. But there arose, to call off
attention from these less dignified objects of the public interest, a
long train of gallant cavaliers, restored so capriciously to liberty,
in order, as it seemed, to give the greater poignancy and bitterness to
the instant renewal of their captivity. This was the very frenzy of
despotism in its very moodiest state of excitement. Many began to think
the Landgrave mad. If so, what a dreadful fate might be anticipated for
the sons or representatives of so many noble families, gallant soldiers
the greater part of them, with a nobleman of princely blood at their
head, lying under the displeasure of a gloomy and infuriated tyrant,
with unlimited means of executing the bloodiest suggestions of his
vengeance. Then, in what way had the guardians of the jails come to be
connected with any even imaginary offence? Supposing the Landgrave
insane, his agents were not so; Colonel von Aremberg was a man of
shrewd and penetrating understanding; and this officer had clearly
spoken in the tone of one who, whilst announcing the sentence of
another, sympathizes entirely with the justice and necessity of its

Something dropped from the miserable leader of the city guard, in his
first confusion and attempt at self-defence, which rather increased
than explained the mystery. "The Masque! the Masque !" This was the
word which fell at intervals upon the ear of the listening crowd, as he
sometimes directed his words in the way of apology and deprecation to
Colonel von Aremberg, who did not vouchsafe to listen, or of occasional
explanation and discussion, as it was partly kept up between himself
and one of his nearest partners in the imputed transgression. Two or
three there might be seen in the crowd, whose looks avowed some nearer
acquaintance with this mysterious allusion than it would have been safe
to acknowledge. But, for the great body of spectators who accompanied
the prisoners and their escort to the gates of the castle, it was
pretty evident by their inquiring looks, and the fixed expression of
wonder upon their features, that the whole affair, and its
circumstances, were to them equally a subject of mystery for what was
past, and of blind terror for what was to come.


The cavalcade, with its charge of prisoners, and its attendant train of
spectators, halted at the gates of the _schloss_. This vast and
antique pile had now come to be surveyed with dismal and revolting
feelings, as the abode of a sanguinary despot. The dungeons and
labyrinths of its tortuous passages, its gloomy halls of audience, with
the vast corridors which surmounted the innumerable flights of stairs--
some noble, spacious, and in the Venetian taste, capable of admitting
the march of an army--some spiral, steep, and so unusually narrow as to
exclude two persons walking abreast; these, together with the numerous
chapels erected in it to different saints by devotees, male or female,
in the families of forgotten Landgraves through four centuries back;
and, finally, the tribunals, or _gericht-kammern_, for dispensing
justice, criminal or civil, to the city and territorial dependencies of
Klosterheim; all united to compose a body of impressive images,
hallowed by great historical remembrances, or traditional stories, that
from infancy to age dwelt upon the feelings of the Klosterheimers.
Terror and superstitious dread predominated undoubtedly in the total
impression; but the gentle virtues exhibited by a series of princes,
who had made this their favorite residence, naturally enough terminated
in mellowing the sternness of such associations into a religious awe,
not without its own peculiar attractions. But, at present, under the
harsh and repulsive character of the reigning prince, everything took a
new color from his un-genial habits. The superstitious legend, which
had so immemorially peopled the _schloss_ with spectral
apparitions, now revived in its earliest strength. Never was Germany
more dedicated to superstition in every shape than at this period. The
wild, tumultuous times, and the slight tenure upon which all men held
their lives, naturally threw their thoughts much upon the other world;
and communications with that, or its burthen of secrets, by every
variety of agencies, ghosts, divination, natural magic, palmistry, or
astrology, found in every city of the land more encouragement than

It cannot, therefore, be surprising that the well-known apparition of
the White Lady (a legend which affected Klosterheim through the
fortunes of its Landgraves, no less than several other princely houses
of Germany, descended from the same original stock) should about this
time have been seen in the dusk of the evening at some of the upper
windows in the castle, and once in a lofty gallery of the great chapel
during the vesper service. This lady, generally known by the name of
the White Lady Agnes, or Lady Agnes of Weissemburg, is supposed to have
lived in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and from that time, even
to our own days, the current belief is, that on the eve of any great
crisis of good or evil fortune impending over the three or four
illustrious houses of Germany which trace their origin from her, she
makes her appearance in some conspicuous apartment, great baronial hall
or chapel, of their several palaces, sweeping along in white robes, and
a voluminous train. Her appearance of late in the _schloss_ of
Klosterheim, confidently believed by the great body of the people, was
hailed with secret pleasure, as forerunning some great change in the
Landgrave's family,--which was but another name for better days to
themselves, whilst of necessity it menaced some great evil to the
prince himself. Hope, therefore, was predominant in their prospects,
and in the supernatural intimations of coming changes;--yet awe and
deep religious feeling mingled with their hope. Of chastisement
approaching to the Landgrave they felt assured. Some dim religious
judgment, like that which brooded over the house of Œdipus, was now at
hand,--that was the universal impression. His gloomy asceticism of life
seemed to argue secret crimes: these were to be brought to light; for
these, and for his recent tyranny, prosperous as it had seemed for a
moment, chastisements were now impending; and something of the awe
which belonged to a prince so marked out for doom and fatal catastrophe
seemed to attach itself to his mansion, more especially as it was there
only that the signs and portents of the coming woe had revealed
themselves in the apparition of the White Lady.

Under this superstitious impression, many of the spectators paused at
the entrance of the castle, and lingered in the portal, though
presuming that the chamber of justice, according to the frank old usage
of Germany, was still open to all comers. Of this notion they were
speedily disabused by the sudden retreat of the few who had penetrated
into the first ante-chamber. These persons were harshly repelled in a
contumelious manner, and read to the astonished citizens another lesson
upon the new arts of darkness and concealment with which the Landgrave
found it necessary to accompany his new acts of tyranny.

Von Aremberg and his prisoners, thus left alone in one of the ante-
chambers, waited no long time before they were summoned to the presence
of the Landgrave.

After pacing along a number of corridors, all carpeted so as to return
no sound to their footsteps, they arrived in a little hall, from which
a door suddenly opened, upon a noiseless signal exchanged with an usher
outside, and displayed before them a long gallery, with a table and a
few seats arranged at the further end. Two gentlemen were seated at the
table, anxiously examining papers; in one of whom it was easy to
recognize the wily glance of the Italian minister; the other was the

This prince was now on the verge of fifty, strikingly handsome in his
features, and of imposing presence, from the union of a fine person
with manners unusually dignified. No man understood better the art of
restraining his least governable impulses of anger or malignity within
the decorums of his rank. And even his worst passions, throwing a
gloomy rather than terrific air upon his features, served less to alarm
and revolt, than to impress the sense of secret distrust. Of late,
indeed, from the too evident indications of the public hatred, his
sallies of passion had become wilder and more ferocious, and his self-
command less habitually conspicuous. But, in general, a gravity of
insidious courtesy disguised from all but penetrating eyes the
treacherous purpose of his heart.

The Landgrave bowed to the Count St. Aldenheim, and, pointing to a
chair, begged him to understand that he wished to do nothing
inconsistent with his regard for the Palsgrave his brother; and would
be content with his parole of honor to pursue no further any conspiracy
against himself, in which he might too thoughtlessly have engaged, and
with his retirement from the city of Klosterheim.

The Count St. Aldenheim replied that he and all the other cavaliers
present, according to his belief, stood upon the same footing: that
they had harbored no thought of conspiracy, unless that name could
attach to a purpose of open expostulation with his highness on the
outraged privileges of their corporation as a university; that he
wished not for any distinction of treatment in a case when all were
equal offenders, or none at all; and, finally, that he believed the
sentence of exile from Klosterheim would be cheerfully accepted by all
or most of those present.

Adorni, the minister, shook his head, and glanced significantly at the
Landgrave, during this answer. The Landgrave coldly replied that if he
could suppose the count to speak sincerely, it was evident that he was
little aware to what length his companions, or some of them, had pushed
their plots. "Here are the proofs!" and he pointed to the papers.

"And now, gentlemen," said he, turning to the students, "I marvel that
you, being cavaliers of family, and doubtless holding yourselves men of
honor, should beguile these poor knaves into certain ruin, whilst
yourselves could reap nothing but a brief mockery of the authority
which you could not hope to evade."

Thus called upon, the students and the city guard told their tale; in
which no contradictions could be detected. The city prison was not
particularly well secured against attacks from without. To prevent,
therefore, any sudden attempt at a rescue, the guard kept watch by
turns. One man watched two hours, traversing the different passages of
the prison; and was then relieved. At three o'clock on the preceding
night, pacing a winding lobby, brightly illuminated, the man who kept
that watch was suddenly met by a person wearing a masque, and armed at
all points. His surprise and consternation were great, and the more so
as the steps of The Masque were soundless, though the floor was a stone
one. The guard, but slightly prepared to meet an attack, would,
however, have resisted or raised an alarm; but The Masque, instantly
levelling a pistol at his head with one hand, with the other had thrown
open the door of an empty cell, indicating to the man by signs that he
must enter it. With this intimation he had necessarily complied; and
The Masque had immediately turned the key upon him. Of what followed he
knew nothing until aroused by his comrades setting him at liberty,
after some time had been wasted in searching for him.

The students had a pretty uniform tale to report. A Masque, armed cap-
a-pie, as described by the guard, had visited each of their cells in
succession; had instructed them by signs to dress, and then, pointing
to the door, by a series of directions all communicated in the same
dumb show, had assembled them together, thrown open the prison door,
and, pointing to their college, had motioned them thither. This motion
they had seen no cause to disobey, presuming their dismissal to be
according to the mode which best pleased his highness; and not ill-
pleased at finding so peaceful a termination to a summons which at
first, from its mysterious shape and the solemn hour of night, they had
understood as tending to some more formidable issue.

It was observed that neither the Landgrave nor his minister treated
this report of so strange a transaction with the scorn which had been
anticipated. Both listened attentively, and made minute inquiries as to
every circumstance of the dress and appointments of the mysterious
Masque. What was his height? By what road, or in what direction, had he
disappeared? These questions answered, his highness and his minister
consulted a few minutes together; and then, turning to Von Aremberg,
bade him for the present dismiss the prisoners to their homes; an act
of grace which seemed likely to do him service at the present crisis;
but at the same time to take sufficient security for their
reappearance. This done, the whole body were liberated.


All Klosterheim was confounded by the story of the mysterious Masque.
For the story had been rapidly dispersed; and on the same day it was
made known in another shape. A notice was affixed to the walls of
several public places in these words:

"Landgrave, beware! henceforth not you, but I, govern in Klosterheim.

(Signed) THE MASQUE."

And this was no empty threat. Very soon it became apparent that some
mysterious agency was really at work to counteract the Landgrave's
designs. Sentinels were carried off from solitary posts. Guards, even
of a dozen men, were silently trepanned from their stations. By and by,
other attacks were made, even more alarming, upon domestic security.
Was there a burgomaster amongst the citizens who had made himself
conspicuously a tool of the Landgrave, or had opposed the imperial
interest? He was carried off in the night-time from his house, and
probably from the city. At first this was an easy task. Nobody
apprehending any special danger to himself, no special preparations
were made to meet it. But as it soon became apparent in what cause The
Masque was moving, every person who knew himself obnoxious to attack,
took means to face it. Guards were multiplied; arms were repaired in
every house; alarm-bells were hung. For a time the danger seemed to
diminish. The attacks were no longer so frequent. Still, wherever they
were attempted, they succeeded just as before. It seemed, in fact, that
all the precautions taken had no other effect than to warn The Masque
of his own danger, and to place him more vigilantly on his guard. Aware
of new defences raising, it seemed that he waited to see the course
they would take; once master of that, he was ready (as it appeared) to
contend with them as successfully as before.

Nothing could exceed the consternation of the city. Those even who did
not fall within the apparent rule which governed the attacks of The
Masque felt a sense of indefinite terror hanging over them. Sleep was
no longer safe; the seclusion of a man's private hearth, the secrecy of
bed-rooms, was no longer a protection. Locks gave way, bars fell, doors
flew open, as if by magic, before him. Arms seemed useless. In some
instances a party of as many as ten or a dozen persons had been removed
without rousing disturbance in the neighborhood. Nor was this the only
circumstance of mystery. Whither he could remove his victims was even
more incomprehensible than the means by which he succeeded. All was
darkness and fear; and the whole city was agitated with panic.

It began now to be suggested that a nightly guard should be
established, having fixed stations or points of rendezvous, and at
intervals parading the streets. This was cheerfully assented to; for,
after the first week of the mysterious attacks, it began to be observed
that the imperial party were attacked indiscriminately with the
Swedish. Many students publicly declared that they had been dogged
through a street or two by an armed Masque; others had been suddenly
confronted by him in unfrequented parts of the city, in the dead of
night, and were on the point of being attacked, when some alarm, or the
approach of distant footsteps, had caused him to disappear. The
students, indeed, more particularly, seemed objects of attack; and as
they were pretty generally attached to the imperial interest, the
motives of The Masque were no longer judged to be political. Hence it
happened that the students came forward in a body, and volunteered as
members of the nightly guard. Being young, military for the most part
in their habits, and trained to support the hardships of night-
watching, they seemed peculiarly fitted for the service; and, as the
case was no longer of a nature to awaken the suspicions of the
Landgrave, they were generally accepted and enrolled; and with the more
readiness, as the known friends of that prince came forward at the same

A night-watch was thus established, which promised security to the
city, and a respite from their mysterious alarms. It was distributed
into eight or ten divisions, posted at different points, whilst a
central one traversed the whole city at stated periods, and overlooked
the local stations. Such an arrangement was wholly unknown at that time
in every part of Germany, and was hailed with general applause.

To the astonishment, however, of everybody, it proved wholly
ineffectual. Houses were entered as before; the college chambers proved
no sanctuary; indeed, they were attacked with a peculiar obstinacy,
which was understood to express a spirit of retaliation for the
alacrity of the students in combining--for the public protection.
People were carried off as before. And continual notices affixed to the
gates of the college, the convents, or the _schloss_, with the
signature of _The Masque_, announced to the public his determination
to persist, and his contempt of the measures organized against him.

The alarm of the citizens now became greater than ever. The danger was
one which courage could not face, nor prudence make provision for, nor
wiliness evade. All alike, who had once been marked out for attack,
sooner or later fell victims to the obstinacy of this mysterious foe.
To have received even an individual warning, availed them not at all.
Sometimes it happened that, having received notice of suspicious
circumstances indicating that The Masque had turned his attention upon
themselves, they would assemble round their dwellings, or in their very
chambers, a band of armed men sufficient to set the danger at defiance.
But no sooner had they relaxed in these costly and troublesome
arrangements, no sooner was the sense of peril lulled, and an opening
made for their unrelenting enemy, than he glided in with his customary
success; and in a morning or two after, it was announced to the city
that they also were numbered with his victims.

Even yet it seemed that something remained in reserve to augment the
terrors of the citizens, and push them to excess. Hitherto there had
been no reason to think that any murderous violence had occurred in the
mysterious rencontres between The Masque and his victims. But of late,
in those houses, or college chambers, from which the occupiers had
disappeared, traces of bloodshed were apparent in some instances, and
of ferocious conflict in others. Sometimes a profusion of hair was
scattered on the ground; sometimes fragments of dress, or splinters of
weapons. Everything marked that on both sides, as this mysterious
agency advanced, the passions increased in intensity; determination and
murderous malignity on the one side, and the fury of resistance on the

At length the last consummation was given to the public panic; for, as
if expressly to put an end to all doubts upon the spirit in which he
conducted his warfare, in one house, where the bloodshed had been so
great as to argue some considerable loss of life, a notice was left
behind in the following terms: "Thus it is that I punish resistance;
mercy to a cheerful submission; but henceforth death to the obstinate!

What was to be done? Some counselled a public deprecation of his wrath,
addressed to The Masque. But this, had it even offered any chance of
succeeding, seemed too abject an act of abasement to become a large
city. Under any circumstances, it was too humiliating a confession
that, in a struggle with one man (for no more had avowedly appeared
upon the scene), they were left defeated and at his mercy. A second
party counselled a treaty; would it not be possible to learn the
ultimate objects of The Masque; and, if such as seemed capable of being
entertained with honor, to concede to him his demands, in exchange for
security to the city, and immunity from future molestation? It was true
that no man knew where to seek him: personally he was hidden from their
reach; but everybody knew how to find him: he was amongst them; in
their very centre; and whatever they might address to him in a public
notice would be sure of speedily reaching his eye.

After some deliberation, a summons was addressed to The Masque, and
exposed on the college gates, demanding of him a declaration of his
purposes, and the price which he expected for suspending them. The next
day an answer appeared in the same situation, avowing the intention of
The Masque to come forward with ample explanation of his motives at a
proper crisis, till which, "more blood must flow in Klosterheim."


Meantime the Landgrave was himself perplexed and alarmed. Hitherto he
had believed himself possessed of all the intrigues, plots, or
conspiracies, which threatened his influence in the city. Among the
students and among the citizens he had many spies, who communicated to
him whatsoever they could learn, which was sometimes more than the
truth, and sometimes a good deal less. But now he was met by a terrific
antagonist, who moved in darkness, careless of his power, inaccessible
to his threats, and apparently as reckless as himself of the quality of
his means.

Adorni, with all his Venetian subtlety, was now as much at fault as
everybody else. In vain had they deliberated together, day after day,
upon his probable purposes; in vain had they schemed to intercept his
person, or offered high rewards for tracing his retreats. Snares had
been laid for him in vain; every wile had proved abortive, every plot
had been counterplotted. And both involuntarily confessed that they had
now met with their master.

Vexed and confounded, fears for the future struggling with
mortification for the past, the Landgrave was sitting, late at night,
in the long gallery where he usually held his councils. He was
reflecting with anxiety on the peculiarly unpropitious moment at which
his new enemy had come upon the stage; the very crisis of the struggle
between the Swedish and imperial interest in Klosterheim, which would
ultimately determine his own place and value in the estimate of his new
allies. He was not of a character to be easily duped by mystery. Yet he
could not but acknowledge to himself that there was something
calculated to impress awe, and the sort of fear which is connected with
the supernatural, in the sudden appearances, and vanishings as sudden,
of The Masque. He came, no one could guess whence; retreated, no one
could guess whither; was intercepted, and yet eluded arrest; and if
half the stories in circulation could be credited, seemed inaudible in
his steps, at pleasure to make himself invisible and impalpable to the
very hands stretched out to detain him. Much of this, no doubt, was
wilful exaggeration, or the fictions of fears self-deluded. But enough
remained, after every allowance, to justify an extraordinary interest
in so singular a being; and the Landgrave could not avoid wishing that
chance might offer an opportunity to himself of observing him.

Profound silence had for some time reigned throughout the castle. A
clock which stood in the room broke it for a moment by striking the
quarters; and, raising his eyes, the Landgrave perceived that it was
past two. He rose to retire for the night, and stood for a moment
musing with one hand resting upon the table. A momentary feeling of awe
came across him, as his eyes travelled through the gloom at the lower
end of the room, on the sudden thought, that a being so mysterious, and
capable of piercing through so many impediments to the interior of
every mansion in Klosterheim, was doubtless likely enough to visit the
castle; nay, it would be no ways improbable that he should penetrate to
this very room. What bars had yet been found sufficient to repel him?
And who could pretend to calculate the hour of his visit? This night
even might be the time which he would select. Thinking thus, the
Landgrave was suddenly aware of a dusky figure entering the room by a
door at the lower end. The room had the length and general proportions
of a gallery, and the further end was so remote from the candles which
stood on the Landgrave's table, that the deep gloom was but slightly
penetrated by their rays. Light, however, there was, sufficient to
display the outline of a figure slowly and inaudibly advancing up the
room. It could not be said that the figure advanced stealthily; on the
contrary, its motion, carriage, and bearing, were in the highest degree
dignified and solemn. But the feeling of a stealthy purpose was
suggested by the perfect silence of its tread. The motion of a shadow
could not be more noiseless. And this circumstance confirmed the
Landgrave's first impression, that now he was on the point of
accomplishing his recent wish, and meeting that mysterious being who
was the object of so much awe, and the author of so far-spread a panic.

He was right; it was indeed The Masque, armed cap-a-pie as usual. He
advanced with an equable and determined step in the direction of the
Landgrave. Whether he saw his highness, who stood a little in the shade
of a large cabinet, could not be known; the Landgrave doubted not that
he did. He was a prince of firm nerves by constitution, and of great
intrepidity; yet, as one who shared in the superstitions of his age, he
could not be expected entirely to suppress an emotion of indefinite
apprehension as he now beheld the solemn approach of a being, who, by
some unaccountable means, had trepanned so many different individuals
from so many different houses, most of them prepared for self-defence,
and fenced in by the protection of stone walls, locks, and bars.

The Landgrave, however, lost none of his presence of mind; and, in the
midst of his discomposure, as his eye fell upon the habiliments of this
mysterious person, and the arms and military accoutrements which he
bore, naturally his thoughts settled upon the more earthly means of
annoyance which this martial apparition carried about him. The
Landgrave was himself unarmed; he had no arms even within reach, nor
was it possible for him in his present situation very speedily to
summon assistance. With these thoughts passing rapidly through his
mind, and sensible that, in any view of his nature and powers, the
being now in his presence was a very formidable antagonist, the
Landgrave could not but feel relieved from a burden of anxious tremors,
when he saw The Masque suddenly turn towards a door which opened about
half-way up the room, and led into a picture-gallery at right angles
with the room in which they both were.

Into the picture-gallery The Masque passed at the same solemn pace,
without apparently looking at the Landgrave. This movement seemed to
argue, either that he purposely declined an interview with the
prince,--and _that_ might argue fear,--or that he had not been aware of
his presence. Either supposition, as implying something of human
infirmity, seemed incompatible with supernatural faculties. Partly upon
this consideration, and partly, perhaps, because he suddenly
recollected that the road taken by The Masque would lead him directly
past the apartments of the old seneschal, where assistance might be
summoned, the Landgrave found his spirits at this moment revive. The
consciousness of rank and birth also came to his aid, and that sort of
disdain of the aggressor, which possesses every man, brave or cowardly
alike, within the walls of his own dwelling. Unarmed as he was, he
determined to pursue, and perhaps to speak.

The restraints of high breeding, and the ceremonious decorum of his
rank, involuntarily checked the Landgrave from pursuing with a hurried
pace. He advanced with his habitual gravity of step, so that The Masque
was half-way down the gallery before the prince entered it. This
gallery, furnished on each side with pictures, of which some were
portraits, was of great length. The Masque and the prince continued to
advance, preserving a pretty equal distance. It did not appear by any
sign or gesture that The Masque was aware of the Landgrave's pursuit.
Suddenly, however, he paused, drew his sword, halted; the Landgrave
also halted; then, turning half round, and waving with his hand to the
prince so as to solicit his attention, slowly The Masque elevated the
point of his sword to the level of a picture--it was the portrait of a
young cavalier in a hunting-dress, blooming with youth and youthful
energy. The Landgrave turned pale, trembled, and was ruefully agitated.
The Masque kept his sword in its position for half a minute; then
dropping it, shook his head, and raised his hand with a peculiar
solemnity of expression. The Landgrave recovered himself, his features
swelled with passion, he quickened his step, and again followed in

The Masque, however, had by this time turned out of the gallery into a
passage, which, after a single curve, terminated in the private room of
the seneschal. Believing that his ignorance of the localities was thus
leading him on to certain capture, the Landgrave pursued more
leisurely. The passage was dimly lighted; every image floated in a
cloudy obscurity; and, upon reaching the curve, it seemed to the
Landgrave that The Masque was just on the point of entering the
seneschal's room. No other door was heard to open; and he felt assured
that he had seen the lofty figure of The Masque gliding into that
apartment. He again quickened his steps; a light burned within, the
door stood ajar; quietly the prince pushed it open, and entered with
the fullest assurance that he should here at length overtake the object
of his pursuit.

Great was his consternation upon finding in a room, which presented no
outlet, not a living creature except the elderly seneschal, who lay
quietly sleeping in his arm-chair. The first impulse of the prince was
to awaken him roughly, that he might summon aid and cooperate in the
search. One glance at a paper upon the table arrested his hand. He saw
a name written there, interesting to his fears beyond all others in the
world. His eye was riveted as by fascination to the paper. He read one
instant. That satisfied him that the old seneschal must be overcome by
no counterfeit slumbers, when he could thus surrender a secret of
capital importance to the gaze of that eye from which, above all
others, he must desire to screen it. One moment he deliberated with
himself; the old man stirred, and muttered in his dreams; the Landgrave
seized the paper, and stood irresolute for an instant whether to await
his wakening, and authoritatively to claim what so nearly concerned his
own interest, or to retreat with it from the room before the old man
should be aware of the prince's visit, or his own loss.

But the seneschal, wearied perhaps with some unusual exertion, had but
moved in his chair; again he composed himself to deep slumber, made
deeper by the warmth of a hot fire. The raving of the wind, as it
whistled round this angle of the _schloss_, drowned all sounds
that could have disturbed him. The Landgrave secreted the paper; nor
did any sense of his rank and character interpose to check him in an
act so unworthy of an honorable cavalier. Whatever crimes he had
hitherto committed or authorized, this was, perhaps, the first instance
in which he had offended by an instance of petty knavery. He retired
with the stealthy pace of a robber, anxious to evade detection, and
stole back to his own apartments with an overpowering interest in the
discovery he had made so accidentally, and with an anxiety to
investigate it further, which absorbed for the time all other cares,
and banished from his thoughts even The Masque himself, whose sudden
appearance and retreat had, in fact, thrown into his hands the secret
which now so exclusively disturbed him.


Meantime, The Masque continued to harass the Landgrave, to baffle many
of his wiles, and to neutralize his most politic schemes. In one of the
many placards which he affixed to the castle gates, he described the
Landgrave as ruling in Klosterheim by day, and himself by night.
Sarcasms such as these, together with the practical insults which The
Masque continually offered to the Landgrave, by foiling his avowed
designs, embittered the prince's existence. The injury done to his
political schemes of ambition at this particular crisis was
irreparable. One after one, all the agents and tools by whom he could
hope to work upon the counsels of the Klosterheim authorities had been
removed. Losing _their_ influence, he had lost every prop of his
own. Nor was this all; he was reproached by the general voice of the
city as the original cause of a calamity which he had since shown
himself impotent to redress. He it was, and his cause, which had drawn
upon the people so fatally trepanned the hostility of the mysterious
Masque. But for his highness, all the burgomasters, captains, city-
officers, &c., would now be sleeping in their beds; whereas, the best
late which could be surmised for the most of them was, that they were
sleeping in dungeons; some, perhaps, in their graves. And thus the
Landgrave's cause not merely lost its most efficient partisans, but,
through their loss, determined the wavering against him, alienated the
few who remained of his own faction, and gave strength and
encouragement to the general dissatisfaction which had so long

Thus it happened that the conspirators, or suspected conspirators,
could not be brought to trial, or to punishment without a trial. Any
spark of fresh irritation falling upon the present combustible temper
of the populace, would not fail to produce an explosion. Fresh
conspirators, and real ones, were thus encouraged to arise. The
university, the city, teemed with plots. The government of the prince
was exhausted with the growing labor of tracing and counteracting them.
And, by little and little, matters came into such a condition, that the
control of the city, though still continuing in the Landgrave's hands,
was maintained by mere martial force, and at the very point of the
sword. And, in no long time, it was feared, that with so general a
principle of hatred to combine the populace, and so large a body of
military students to head them, the balance of power, already
approaching to an equipoise, would be turned against the Landgrave's
government. And, in the best event, his highness could now look for
nothing from their love. All might be reckoned for lost that could not
be extorted by force.

This state of things had been brought about by the dreadful Masque,
seconded, no doubt, by those whom he had emboldened and aroused within;
and, as the climax and crowning injury of the whole, every day unfolded
more and more the vast importance which Klosterheim would soon possess
as the centre and key of the movements to be anticipated in the coming
campaign. An electoral cap would perhaps reward the services of the
Landgrave in the general pacification, if he could present himself at
the German Diet as the possessor _de facto_ of Klosterheim and her
territorial dependences, and with some imperfect possession _de
jure_; still more, if he could plead the merit of having brought
over this state, so important from local situation, as a willing ally
to the Swedish interest. But to this a free vote of the city was an
essential preliminary; and from that, through the machinations of The
Masque, he was now further than ever.

The temper of the prince began to give way under these accumulated
provocations. An enemy forever aiming his blows with the deadliest
effect; forever stabbing in the dark, yet charmed and consecrated from
all retaliation; always met with, never to be found! The Landgrave
ground his teeth, clenched his fists, with spasms of fury. lie
quarrelled with his ministers; swore at the officers; cursed the
sentinels; and the story went through Klosterheim that he had kicked

Certain it was, under whatever stimulus, that Adorni put forth much
more zeal at last for the apprehension of The Masque. Come what would,
he publicly avowed that six days more should not elapse without the
arrest of this "ruler of Klosterheim by night." He had a scheme for the
purpose, a plot baited for snaring him; and he pledged his reputation
as a minister and an intriguer upon its entire success.

On the following day, invitations were issued by Adorni, in his
highness' name, to a masqued ball on that day week. The fashion of
masqued entertainments had been recently introduced from Italy into
this sequestered nook of Germany; and here, as there, it had been
abused to purposes of criminal intrigue.

Spite of the extreme unpopularity of the Landgrave with the low and
middle classes of the city, among the highest his little court still
continued to furnish a central resort to the rank and high blood
converged in such unusual proportion within the walls of Klosterheim.
The _schloss_ was still looked to as the standard and final court
of appeal in all matters of taste, elegance, and high breeding. Hence
it naturally happened that everybody with any claims to such an honor
was anxious to receive a ticket of admission;--it became the test for
ascertaining a person's pretensions to mix in the first circles of
society; and with this extraordinary zeal for obtaining an admission
naturally increased the minister's rigor and fastidiousness in pressing
the usual investigation of the claimant's qualifications. Much offence
was given on both sides, and many sneers hazarded at the minister
himself, whose pretensions were supposed to be of the lowest
description. But the result was, that exactly twelve hundred cards were
issued; these were regularly numbered, and below the device, engraved
upon the card, was impressed a seal, bearing the arms and motto of the
Landgraves of X.

Every precaution was taken for carrying into effect the scheme, with
all its details, as concerted by Adorni; and the third day of the
following week was announced as the day of the expected _fête_.


The morning of the important day at length arrived, and all Klosterheim
was filled with expectation. Even those who were not amongst the
invited shared in the anxiety; for a great scene was looked for, and
perhaps some tragical explosion. The undertaking of Adorni was known;
it had been published abroad that he was solemnly pledged to effect the
arrest of The Masque; and by many it was believed that he would so far
succeed, at the least, as to bring on a public collision with that
extraordinary personage. As to the issue most people were doubtful, The
Masque having hitherto so uniformly defeated the best-laid schemes for
his apprehension. But it was hardly questioned that the public
challenge offered to him by Adorni would succeed in bringing him before
the public eye. This challenge had taken the shape of a public notice,
posted up in the places where The Masque had usually affixed his own;
and it was to the following effect: "That the noble strangers now in
Klosterheim, and others invited to the Landgrave's _fête_, who might
otherwise feel anxiety in presenting themselves at the _schloss_, from
an apprehension of meeting with the criminal disturber of the public
peace, known by the appellation of The Masque, were requested by
authority to lay aside all apprehensions of that nature, as the most
energetic measures had been adopted to prevent or chastise upon the
spot any such insufferable intrusion; and for The Masque himself, if he
presumed to disturb the company by his presence, he would be seized
where he stood, and, without further inquiry, committed to the provost-
marshal for instant execution;--on which account, all persons were
warned carefully to forbear from intrusions of simple curiosity, since
in the hurry of the moment it might be difficult to make the requisite

It was anticipated that this insulting notice would not long go without
an answer from The Masque. Accordingly, on the following morning, a
placard, equally conspicuous, was posted up in the same public places,
side by side with that to which it replied. It was couched in the
following terms: "That he who ruled by night in Klosterheim could not
suppose himself to be excluded from a nocturnal _fete_ given by
any person in that city. That he must be allowed to believe himself
invited by the prince, and would certainly have the honor to accept his
highness' obliging summons. With regard to the low personalities
addressed to himself, that he could not descend to notice anything of
that nature, coming from a man so abject as Adorni, until he should
first have cleared himself from the imputation of having been a tailor
in Venice at the time of the Spanish conspiracy in 1618, and banished
from that city, not for any suspicions that could have settled upon him
and his eight journeymen as making up one conspirator, but on account
of some professional tricks in making a doublet for the Doge. For the
rest, he repeated that he would not fail to meet the Landgrave and his
honorable company."

All Klosterheim laughed at this public mortification offered to
Adorni's pride; for that minister had incurred the public dislike as a
foreigner, and their hatred on the score of private character. Adorni
himself foamed at the mouth with rage, impotent for the present, but
which he prepared to give deadly effect to at the proper time. But,
whilst it laughed, Klosterheim also trembled. Some persons, indeed,
were of opinion that the answer of The Masque was a mere sportive
effusion of malice or pleasantry from the students, who had suffered so
much by his annoyances. But the majority, amongst whom was Adorni
himself, thought otherwise. Apart even from the reply, or the insult
which had provoked it, the general impression was, that The Masque
would not have failed in attending a festival, which, by the very
costume which it imposed, offered so favorable a cloak to his own
mysterious purposes. In this persuasion, Adorni took all the
precautions which personal vengeance and Venetian subtlety could
suggest, for availing himself of the single opportunity that would,
perhaps, ever be allowed him for entrapping this public enemy, who had
now become a private one to himself.

These various incidents had furnished abundant matter for conversation
in Klosterheim, and had carried the public expectation to the highest
pitch of anxiety, some time before the great evening arrived. Leisure
had been allowed for fear, and every possible anticipation of the
wildest character, to unfold themselves. Hope, even, amongst many, was
a predominant sensation. Ladies were preparing for hysterics.
Cavaliers, besides the swords which they wore as regular articles of
dress, were providing themselves with stilettoes against any sudden
rencontre hand to hand, or any unexpected surprise. Armorers and
furbishers of weapons were as much in request as the more appropriate
artists who minister to such festal occasions. These again were
summoned to give their professional aid and attendance to an extent so
much out of proportion to their numbers and their natural power of
exertion, that they were harassed beyond all physical capacity of
endurance, and found their ingenuity more heavily taxed to find
personal substitutes amongst the trades most closely connected with
their own, than in any of the contrivances which more properly fell
within the business of their own art. Tailors, horse-milliners,
shoemakers, friseurs, drapers, mercers, tradesmen of every description,
and servants of every class and denomination, were summoned to a
sleepless activity--each in his several vocation, or in some which he
undertook by proxy. Artificers who had escaped on political motives
from Nuremburg and other imperial cities, or from the sack of
Magdeburg, now showed their ingenuity, and their readiness to earn the
bread of industry; and if Klosterheim resembled a hive in the close-
packed condition of its inhabitants, it was now seen that the
resemblance held good hardly less in the industry which, upon a
sufficient excitement, it was able to develop. But, in the midst of all
this stir, din, and unprecedented activity, whatever occupation each
man found for his thoughts or for his hands in his separate
employments, all hearts were mastered by one domineering interest--the
approaching collision of the Landgrave, before his assembled court,
with the mysterious agent who had so long troubled his repose.


The day at length arrived; the guards were posted in unusual strength;
the pages of honor, and servants in their state-dresses, were drawn up
in long and gorgeous files along the sides of the vast Gothic halls,
which ran in continued succession from the front of the _schloss_
to the more modern saloons in the rear; bands of military music,
collected from amongst the foreign prisoners of various nations at
Vienna, were stationed in their national costume--Italian, Hungarian,
Turkish, or Croatian--in the lofty galleries or corridors which ran
round the halls; and the deep thunders of the kettle-drums, relieved by
cymbals and wind-instruments, began to fill the mazes of the palace as
early as seven o'clock in the evening; for at that hour, according to
the custom then established in Germany, such entertainments commenced.
Repeated volleys from long lines of musketeers, drawn up in the square,
and at the other entrances of the palace, with the deep roar of
artillery, announced the arrival of the more distinguished visitors;
amongst whom it was rumored that several officers in supreme command
from the Swedish camp, already collected in the neighborhood, were this
night coming _incognito_--availing themselves of their masques to
visit the Landgrave, and improve the terms of their alliance, whilst
they declined the risk which they might have brought on themselves by
too open a visit, in their own avowed characters and persons, to a town
so unsettled in its state of feeling, and so friendly to the emperor,
as Klosterheim had notoriously become.

From seven to nine o'clock, in one unbroken line of succession,
gorgeous parties streamed along through the halls, a distance of full
half a quarter of a mile, until they were checked by the barriers
erected at the entrance to the first of the entertaining rooms, as the
station for examining the tickets of admission. This duty was fulfilled
in a way which, though really rigorous in the extreme, gave no
inhospitable annoyance to the visitors; the barriers themselves
concealed their jealous purpose of hostility, and in a manner disavowed
the secret awe and mysterious terror which brooded over the evening, by
the beauty of their external appearance. They presented a triple line
of gilt lattice-work, rising to a great altitude, and connected with
the fretted roof by pendent draperies of the most magnificent velvet,
intermingled with banners and heraldic trophies suspended from the
ceiling, and at intervals slowly agitated in the currents which now and
then swept these aerial heights. In the centre of the lattice opened a
single gate, on each side of which were stationed a couple of sentinels
armed to the teeth; and this arrangement was repeated three times, so
rigorous was the vigilance employed. At the second of the gates, where
the bearer of a forged ticket would have found himself in a sort of
trap, with absolutely no possibility of escape, every individual of
each successive party presented his card of admission, and, fortunately
for the convenience of the company, in consequence of the particular
precaution used, one moment's inspection sufficed. The cards had been
issued to the parties invited not very long before the time of
assembling; consequently, as each was sealed with a private seal of the
Landgrave's, sculptured elaborately with his armorial bearings, forgery
would have been next to impossible.

These arrangements, however, were made rather to relieve the company
from the too powerful terrors which haunted them, and to possess them
from the first with a sense of security, than for the satisfaction of
the Landgrave or his minister. They were sensible that The Masque had
it in his power to command an access from the interior--and this it
seemed next to impossible altogether to prevent; nor was _that_
indeed the wish of Adorni, but rather to facilitate his admission, and
afterwards, when satisfied of his actual presence, to bar up all
possibility of retreat. Accordingly, the interior arrangements, though
perfectly prepared, and ready to close up at the word of command, were
for the present but negligently enforced.

Thus stood matters at nine o'clock, by which time upwards of a thousand
persons had assembled; and in ten minutes more an officer reported that
the whole twelve hundred were present, without one defaulter.

The Landgrave had not yet appeared, his minister having received the
company; nor was he expected to appear for an hour--in reality, he was
occupied in political discussion with some of the illustrious
_incognitos_. But this did not interfere with the progress of the
festival; and at this moment nothing could be more impressive than the
far-stretching splendors of the spectacle.

In one immense saloon, twelve hundred cavaliers and ladies, attired in
the unrivalled pomp of that age, were arranging themselves for one of
the magnificent Hungarian dances, which the emperor's court at Vienna
had transplanted to the camp of Wallenstein, and thence to all the
great houses of Germany. Bevies of noble women, in every variety of
fanciful costume, but in each considerable group presenting deep masses
of black or purple velvet, on which, with the most striking advantage
of radiant relief, lay the costly pearl ornaments, or the sumptuous
jewels, so generally significant in those times of high ancestral
pretensions, intermingled with the drooping plumes of martial
cavaliers, who presented almost universally the soldierly air of
frankness which belongs to active service, mixed with the Castilian
_grandezza_ that still breathed through the camps of Germany,
emanating originally from the magnificent courts of Brussels, of
Madrid, and of Vienna, and propagated to this age by the links of
Tilly, the Bavarian commander, and Wallenstein, the more than princely
commander for the emperor. Figures and habiliments so commanding were
of themselves enough to fill the eye and occupy the imagination; but,
beyond all this, feelings of awe and mystery, under more shapes than
one, brooded over the whole scene, and diffused a tone of suspense and
intense excitement throughout the vast assembly. It was known that
illustrious strangers were present _incognito_. There now began to
be some reason for anticipating a great battle in the neighborhood. The
men were now present, perhaps, the very hands were now visibly
displayed for the coming dance, which in a few days, or even hours (so
rapid were the movements at this period), were to wield the truncheon
that might lay the Catholic empire prostrate, or might mould the
destiny of Europe for centuries. Even this feeling gave way to one
still more enveloped in shades--The Masque! Would he keep his promise,
and appear? might he not be there already? might he not even now be
moving amongst them? may he not, even at this very moment, thought each
person, secretly be near me--or even touching myself--or haunting my
own steps?

Yet again thought most people (for at that time hardly anybody affected
to be incredulous in matters allied to the supernatural), was this
mysterious being liable to touch? Was he not of some impassive nature,
inaudible, invisible, impalpable? Many of his escapes, if truly
reported, seemed to argue as much. If, then, connected with the
spiritual world, was it with the good or the evil in that inscrutable
region? But, then, the bloodshed, the torn dresses, the marks of deadly
struggle, which remained behind in some of those cases where mysterious
disappearances had occurred,--these seemed undeniable arguments of
murder, foul and treacherous murder. Every attempt, in short, to
penetrate the mystery of this being's nature, proved as abortive as the
attempts to intercept his person; and all efforts at applying a
solution to the difficulties of the case made the mystery even more

These thoughts, however, generally as they pervaded the company, would
have given way, for a time at least, to the excitement of the scene;
for a sudden clapping of hands from some officers of the household, to
enforce attention, and as a signal to the orchestra in one of the
galleries, at this moment proclaimed that the dances were on the point
of commencing in another half-minute, when suddenly a shriek from a
female, and then a loud, tumultuous cry from a multitude of voices,
announced some fearful catastrophe; and in the next moment a shout of
"Murder!" froze the blood of the timid amongst the company.


So vast was the saloon, that it had been impossible, through the maze
of figures, the confusion of colors, and the mingling of a thousand
voices, that anything should be perceived distinctly at the lower end
of all that was now passing at the upper. Still, so awful is the
mystery of life, and so hideous and accursed in man's imagination is
every secret extinction of toat consecrated lamp, that no news thrills
so deeply, or travels so rapidly. Hardly could it be seen in what
direction, or through whose communication, yet in less than a minute a
movement of sympathizing horror, and uplifted hands, announced that the
dreadful news had reached them. A murder, it was said, had been
committed in the palace. Ladies began to faint; others hastened away in
search of friends; others to learn the news more accurately; and some
of the gentlemen, who thought themselves sufficiently privileged by
rank, hurried off with a stream of agitated inquirers to the interior
of the castle, in search of the scene itself. A few only passed the
guard in the first moments of confusion, and penetrated, with the
agitated Adorni, through the long and winding passages, into the very
scene of the murder. A rumor had prevailed for a moment that the
Landgrave was himself the victim; and as the road by which the agitated
household conducted them took a direction towards his highness' suite
of rooms, at first Adorni had feared that result. Recovering his self-
possession, however, at length, he learned that it was the poor old
seneschal upon whom the blow had fallen. And he pressed on with more
coolness to the dreadful spectacle.

The poor old man was stretched at his length on the floor. It did not
seem that he had struggled with the murderer. Indeed, from some
appearances, it seemed probable that he had been attacked whilst
sleeping; and though he had received three wounds, it was pronounced by
a surgeon that one of them (and _that_, from circumstances, the
first) had been sufficient to extinguish life. He was discovered by his
daughter, a woman who held some respectable place amongst the servants
of the castle; and every presumption concurred in fixing the time of
the dreadful scene to about one hour before.

"Such, gentlemen, are the acts of this atrocious monster, this Masque,
who has so long been the scourge of Klosterheim," said Adorni to the
strangers who had accompanied him, as they turned away on their return
to the company; "but this very night, I trust, will put a bridle in his

"God grant it may be so!" said some. But others thought the whole case
too mysterious for conjectures, and too solemn to be decided by
presumptions. And in the midst of agitated discussions on the scene
they had just witnessed, as well as the whole history of The Masque,
the party returned to the saloon.

Under ordinary circumstances, this dreadful event would have damped the
spirits of the company; as it was, it did but deepen the gloomy
excitement which already had possession of all present, and raise a
more intense expectation of the visit so publicly announced by The
Masque. It seemed as though he had perpetrated this recent murder
merely by way of reviving the impression of his own dreadful character
in Klosterheim, which might have decayed a little of late, in all its
original strength and freshness of novelty; or, as though he wished to
send immediately before him an act of atrocity that should form an
appropriate herald or harbinger of his own entrance upon the scene.

Dreadful, however, as this deed of darkness was, it seemed of too
domestic a nature to exercise any continued influence upon so
distinguished an assembly, so numerous, so splendid, and brought
together at so distinguished a summons. Again, therefore, the masques
prepared to mingle in the dance; again the signal was given; again the
obedient orchestra preluded to the coming strains. In a moment more,
the full tide of harmony swept along. The vast saloon, and its echoing
roof, rang with the storm of music. The masques, with their floating
plumes and jewelled caps, glided through the fine mazes of the
Hungarian dances. All was one magnificent and tempestuous confusion,
overflowing with the luxury of sound and sight, when suddenly, about
midnight, a trumpet sounded, the Landgrave entered, and all was hushed.
The glittering crowd arranged themselves in a half-circle at the upper
end of the room; his highness went rapidly round, saluting the company,
and receiving their homage in return. A signal was again made; the
music and the dancing were resumed; and such was the animation and the
turbulent delight amongst the gayer part of the company, from the
commingling of youthful blood with wine, lights, music, and festal
conversation, that, with many, all thoughts of the dreadful Masque, who
"reigned by night in Klosterheim," had faded before the exhilaration of
the moment. Midnight had come; the dreadful apparition had not yet
entered; young ladies began timidly to jest upon the subject, though as
yet but faintly, and in a tone somewhat serious for a jest; and young
cavaliers, who, to do them justice, had derived most part of their
terrors from the superstitious view of the case, protested to their
partners that if The Masque, on making his appearance, should conduct
himself in a manner unbecoming a cavalier, or offensive to the ladies
present, they should feel it their duty to chastise him; "though," said
they, "with respect to old Adorni, should The Masque think proper to
teach him better manners, or even to cane him, we shall not find it
necessary to interfere."

Several of the very young ladies protested that, of all things, they
should like to see a battle between old Adorni and The Masque, "such a
love of a quiz that old Adorni is!" whilst others debated whether The
Masque would turn out a young man or an old one; and a few elderly
maidens mooted the point whether he were likely to be a "single"
gentleman, or burdened with a "wife and family." These and similar
discussions were increasing in vivacity, and kindling more and more
gayety of repartee, when suddenly, with the effect of a funeral knell
upon their mirth, a whisper began to circulate that _there was one
Masque too many in company_. Persons had been stationed by Adorni in
different galleries, with instructions to note accurately the dress of
every person in the company; to watch the motions of every one who gave
the slightest cause for suspicion, by standing aloof from the rest of
the assembly, or by any other peculiarity of manner; but, above all, to
count the numbers of the total assembly. This last injunction was more
easily obeyed than at first sight seemed possible. At this time the
Hungarian dances, which required a certain number of partners to
execute the movements of the figure, were of themselves a sufficient
register of the precise amount of persons engaged in them. And, as
these dances continued for a long time undisturbed, this calculation
once made, left no further computation necessary, than simply to take
the account of all who stood otherwise engaged. This list, being much
the smaller one, was soon made; and the reports of several different
observers, stationed in different galleries, and checked by each other,
all tallied in reporting a total of just _twelve hundred and one
persons_, after every allowance was made for the known members of
the Landgrave's suite, who were all unmasqued.

This report was announced with considerable trepidation, in a very
audible whisper, to Adorni and the Landgrave. The buzz of agitation
attracted instant attention; the whisper was loud enough to catch the
ears of several; the news went rapidly kindling through the room that
the company was too many by one: all the ladies trembled, their knees
shook, their voices failed, they stopped in the very middle of
questions, answers halted for their conclusion, and were never more
remembered by either party; the very music began to falter, the lights
seemed to wane and sicken; for the fact was new too evident that The
Masque had kept his appointment, and was at this moment in the room "to
meet the Landgrave and his honorable company."

Adorni and the Landgrave now walked apart from the rest of the
household, and were obviously consulting together on the next step to
be taken, or on the proper moment for executing one which had already
been decided on. Some crisis seemed approaching, and the knees of many
ladies knocked together, as they anticipated some cruel or bloody act
of vengeance. "O poor Masque!" sighed a young lady, in her tender-
hearted concern for one who seemed now at the mercy of his enemies: "do
you think, sir," addressing her partner, "they will cut him to
pieces?"--"O, that wicked old Adorni!" exclaimed another; "I know he
will stick the poor Masque on one side and somebody else will stick him
on the other; I know he will, because The Masque called him a tailor;
do you think he _was_ a tailor sir?"--"Why, really, madam, he
walks like a tailor; but, then he must be a very bad one, considering
how ill his own clothes are made; and _that_, you know, is next
door to being none at all. But, see, his highness is going to stop the

In fact, at that moment the Landgrave made a signal to the orchestra:
the music ceased abruptly; and his highness, advancing to the company,
who stood eagerly awaiting his words, said: "Illustrious and noble
friends! for a very urgent and special cause I will request of you all
to take your seats."

The company obeyed, every one sought the chair next to him, or, if a
lady, accepted that which was offered by the cavalier at her side. The
standers continually diminished. Two hundred were left, one hundred and
fifty, eighty, sixty, twenty, till at last they were reduced to two,--
both gentlemen, who had been attending upon ladies. They were suddenly
aware of their own situation. One chair only remained out of twelve
hundred. Eager to exonerate himself from suspicion, each sprang
furiously to this seat; each attained it at the same moment, and each
possessed himself of part at the same instant. As they happened to be
two elderly, corpulent men, the younger cavaliers, under all the
restraints of the moment, the panic of the company, and the Landgraves
presence, could not forbear laughing; and the more spirited amongst the
young ladies caught the infection.

His highness was little in a temper to brook this levity, and hastened
to relieve the joint occupants of the chair from the ridicule of their
situation. "Enough!" he exclaimed, "enough! All my friends are
requested to resume the situation most agreeable to them; my purpose is
answered." The prince was himself standing with all his household, and,
as a point of respect, all the company rose. ("_As you were_,"
whispered the young soldiers to their fair companions.)

Adorni now came forward. "It is known," said he, "by trials more than
sufficient, that some intruder, with the worst intentions, has crept
into this honorable company. The ladies present will therefore have the
goodness to retire apart to the lower end of the saloon, whilst the
noble cavaliers will present themselves in succession to six officers
of his highness' household, to whom they will privately communicate
their names and quality."

This arrangement was complied with,--not, however, without the exchange
of a few flying jests on the part of the younger cavaliers and their
fair partners, as they separated for the purpose. The cavaliers, who
were rather more than five hundred in number, went up as they were
summoned by the number marked upon their cards of admission, and,
privately communicating with some one of the officers appointed, were
soon told off, and filed away to the right of the Landgrave, waiting
for the signal which should give them permission to rejoin their

All had been now told off, within a score. These were clustered
together in a group; and in that group undoubtedly was The Masque.
Every eye was converged upon this small knot of cavaliers; each of the
spectators, according to his fancy, selected the one who came nearest
in dress, or in personal appearance, to his preconceptions of that
mysterious agent. Not a word was uttered, not a whisper; hardly a robe
was heard to rustle, or a feather to wave.

The twenty were rapidly reduced to twelve, these to six, the six to
four--three--two; the tale of the invited was complete, and one man
remained behind. That was, past doubting, The Masque!


"There stands he that governs Klosterheim by night!" thought every
cavalier, as he endeavored to pierce the gloomy being's concealment
with penetrating eyes, or, by scrutiny ten times repeated, to unmasque
the dismal secrets which lurked beneath his disguise. "There stands the
gloomy murderer!" thought another. "There stands the poor detected
criminal," thought the pitying young ladies, "who in the next moment
must lay bare his breast to the Landgrave's musketeers."

The figure, meantime, stood tranquil and collected, apparently not in
the least disturbed by the consciousness of his situation, or the
breathless suspense of more than a thousand spectators of rank and
eminent station, all bending their looks upon himself. He had been
leaning against a marble column, as if wrapped up in revery, and
careless of everything about him. But when the dead silence announced
that the ceremony was closed, that he only remained to answer for
himself, and upon palpable proof--evidence not to be gainsayed--
incapable of answering satisfactorily; when, in fact, it was beyond
dispute that here was at length revealed, in bodily presence, before
the eyes of those whom he had so long haunted with terrors, The Masque
of Klosterheim,--it was naturally expected that now, at least, he would
show alarm and trepidation; that he would prepare for defence, or
address himself to instant flight.

Far otherwise! Cooler than any one person beside in the saloon, he
stood, like the marble column against which he had been reclining,
upright, massy, and imperturbable. He was enveloped in a voluminous
mantle, which, at this moment, with a leisurely motion, he suffered to
fall at his feet, and displayed a figure in which the grace of an
Antinous met with the columnar strength of a Grecian Hercules,--
presenting, in its _tout ensemble_, the majestic proportions of a
Jupiter. He stood--a breathing statue of gladiatorial beauty, towering
above all who were near him, and eclipsing the noblest specimens of the
human form which the martial assembly presented. A buzz of admiration
arose, which in the following moment was suspended by the dubious
recollections investing his past appearances, and the terror which
waited even on his present movements. He was armed to the teeth; and he
was obviously preparing to move.

Not a word had yet been spoken; so tumultuous was the succession of
surprises, so mixed and conflicting the feelings, so intense the
anxiety. The arrangement of the groups was this: At the lower half of
the room, but starting forward in attitudes of admiration or suspense,
were the ladies of Klosterheim. At the upper end, in the centre, one
hand raised to bespeak attention, was The Masque of Klosterheim. To his
left, and a little behind him, with a subtle Venetian countenance, one
hand waving back a half file of musketeers, and the other raised as if
to arrest the arm of The Masque, was the wily minister Adorni, creeping
nearer and nearer with a stealthy stride. To his right was the great
body of Klosterheim cavaliers, a score of students and young officers
pressing forward to the front; but in advance of the whole, the
Landgrave of X----, haughty, lowering, and throwing out looks of
defiance. These were the positions and attitudes in which the first
discovery of The Masque had surprised them; and these they still
retained. Less dignified spectators were looking downwards from the

"Surrender!" was the first word by which silence was broken; it came
from the Landgrave.

"Or die!" exclaimed Adorni.

"He dies in any case," rejoined the prince.

The Masque still raised his hand with the action of one who bespeaks
attention. Adorni he deigned not to notice. Slightly inclining his head
to the Landgrave, in a tone to which it might be the headdress of
elaborate steel work that gave a sepulchral tone, he replied:

"The Masque, who rules in Klosterheim by night, surrenders not. He can
die. But first he will complete the ceremony of the night; he will
reveal himself."

"That is superfluous," exclaimed Adorni; "we need no further
revelations. Seize him, and lead him out to death!"

"Dog of an Italian!" replied The Masque, drawing a dag [Footnote:
_Dag_, a sort of pistol or carbine.] from his belt, "die first
yourself!" And so saying, he slowly turned and levelled the barrel at
Adorni, who fled with two bounds to the soldiers in the rear. Then,
withdrawing the weapon hastily, he added, in a tone of cool contempt,
"Or bridle that coward's tongue."

But this was not the minister's intention. "Seize him!" he cried again
impetuously to the soldiers, laying his hand on the arm of the
foremost, and pointing them forward to their prey.

"No!" said the Landgrave, with a commanding voice; "halt! I bid you."
Something there was in the tone, or it might be that there was
something in his private recollections, or something in the general
mystery, which promised a discovery that he feared to lose by the too
precipitate vengeance of the Italian. "What is it, mysterious being,
that you would reveal? Or who is it that you now believe interested in
your revelations?"

"Yourself.--Prince, it would seem that you have me at your mercy:
wherefore, then, the coward haste of this Venetian hound? I am one; you
are many. Lead me, then, out; shoot me. But no: freely I entered this
hall; freely I will leave it. If I must die, I will die as a soldier.
Such I am; and neither runagate from a foreign land, nor "--turning to
Adorni-"a base mechanic."

"But a murderer!" shrieked Adorni: "but a murderer; and with hands yet
reeking from innocent blood!"

"Blood, Adorni, that I will yet avenge.--Prince, you demand the nature
of my revelations. I will reveal my name, my quality, and my mission."

"And to whom?"

"To yourself, and none beside. And, as a pledge for the sincerity of my
discoveries, I will first of all communicate a dreadful secret, known,
as you fondly believe, to none but your highness. Prince, dare you
receive my revelations?"

Speaking thus, The Masque took one step to the rear, turning his back
upon the room, and by a gesture signified his wish that the Landgrave
should accompany him. But at this motion ten or a dozen of the foremost
among the young cavaliers started forward in advance of the Landgrave,
in part forming a half-circle about his person, and in part commanding
the open doorway.

"He is armed!" they exclaimed; "and trebly armed: will your highness
approach him too nearly?"

"I fear him not," said the Landgrave, with something of a contemptuous

"Wherefore should you fear me?" retorted The Masque, with a manner so
tranquil and serene as involuntarily to disarm suspicion. "Were it
possible that I should seek the life of any man here in particular, in
that case (pointing to the fire-arms in his belt), why should I need to
come nearer? Were it possible that any should find in my conduct here a
motive to a personal vengeance upon myself, which of you is not near
enough? Has your highness the courage to trample on such terrors?"

Thus challenged, as it were, to a trial of his courage before the
assembled rank of Klosterheim, the Landgrave waved off all who would
have stepped forward officiously to his support. If he felt any
tremors, he was now sensible that pride and princely honor called upon
him to dissemble them. And, probably, that sort of tremors which he
felt in reality did not point in a direction to which physical support,
such as was now tendered, could have been available. He hesitated no
longer, but strode forward to meet The Masque. His highness and The
Masque met near the archway of the door, in the very centre of the

With a thrilling tone, deep, piercing, full of alarm, The Masque began

"To win your confidence, forever to establish credit with your
highness, I will first of all reveal the name of that murderer who this
night dared to pollute your palace with an old man's blood. Prince,
bend your ear a little this way."

With a shudder, and a visible effort of self-command, the Landgrave
inclined his ear to The Masque, who added,--

"Your highness will be shocked to hear it:" then, in a lower tone, "Who
could have believed it?--It was----." All was pronounced clearly and
strongly, except the last word--the name of the murderer; _that_ was
made audible only to the Landgrave's ear.

Sudden and tremendous was the effect upon the prince: he reeled a few
paces off; put his hand to the hilt of his sword; smote his forehead;
threw frenzied looks upon The Masque,--now half imploring, now dark
with vindictive wrath. Then succeeded a pause of profoundest silence,
during which all the twelve hundred visitors, whom he had himself
assembled as if expressly to make them witnesses of this extraordinary
scene, and of the power with which a stranger could shake him to and
fro in a tempestuous strife of passions, were looking and hearkening
with senses on the stretch to pierce the veil of silence and of
distance. At last the Landgrave mastered his emotion sufficiently to
say, "Well, sir, what next?"

"Next comes a revelation of another kind; and I warn you, sir, that it
will not be less trying to the nerves. For this first I needed your
ear; now I shall need your eyes. Think again, prince, whether you will
stand the trial."

"Pshaw! sir, you trifle with me; again I tell you--" But here the
Landgrave spoke with an affectation of composure, and with an effort
that did not escape notice;--"again I tell you that I fear you not. Go

"Then come forward a little, please your highness, to the light of this
lamp." So saying, with a step or two in advance, he drew the prince
under the powerful glare of a lamp suspended near the great archway of
entrance from the interior of the palace. Both were now standing with
their faces entirely averted from the spectators. Still more
effectually, however, to screen himself from any of those groups on the
left, whose advanced position gave them somewhat more the advantage of
an oblique aspect, The Masque, at this moment, suddenly drew up, with
his left hand, a short Spanish mantle which depended from his
shoulders, and now gave him the benefit of a lateral screen. Then, so
far as the company behind them could guess at his act, unlocking with
his right hand and raising the masque which shrouded his mysterious
features, he shouted aloud, in a voice that rang clear through every
corner of the vast saloon, "Landgrave, for crimes yet unrevealed, I
summon you, in twenty days, before a tribunal where there is no shield
but innocence" and at that moment turned his countenance full upon the

With a yell, rather than a human expression of terror, the Landgrave
fell, as if shot by a thunderbolt, stretched at his full length upon
the ground, lifeless apparently, and bereft of consciousness or
sensation. A sympathetic cry of horror arose from the spectators. All
rushed towards The Masque. The young cavaliers, who had first stepped
forward as volunteers in the Landgrave's defence, were foremost, and
interposed between The Masque and the outstretched arms of Adorni, as
if eager to seize him first. In an instant a sudden and dense cloud of
smoke arose, nobody knew whence. Repeated discharges of fire-arms were
heard resounding from the doorway and the passages; these increased the
smoke and the confusion. Trumpets sounded through the corridors. The
whole archway, under which The Masque and the Landgrave had been
standing, became choked up with soldiery, summoned by the furious
alarms that echoed through the palace. All was one uproar and chaos of
masques, plumes, helmets, halberds, trumpets, gleaming sabres, and the
fierce faces of soldiery forcing themselves through the floating
drapery of smoke that now filled the whole upper end of the saloon.
Adorni was seen in the midst, raving fruitlessly. Nobody heard, nobody
listened. Universal panic had seized the household, the soldiery, and
the company. Nobody understood exactly for what purpose the tumult had
commenced--in what direction it tended. Some tragic catastrophe was
reported from mouth to mouth: nobody knew what. Some said the Landgrave
had been assassinated; some, The Masque; some asserted that both had
perished under reciprocal assaults. More believed that The Masque had
proved to be of that supernatural order of beings, with which the
prevailing opinions of Klosterheim had long classed him; and that, upon
raising his disguise, he had revealed to the Landgrave the fleshless
skull of some forgotten tenant of the grave. This indeed seemed to many
the only solution that, whilst it fell in with the prejudices and
superstitions of the age, was of a nature to account for that
tremendous effect which the discovery had produced upon the Landgrave.
But it was one that naturally could be little calculated to calm the
agitations of the public prevailing at this moment. This spread
contagiously. The succession of alarming events,--the murder, the
appearance of The Masque, his subsequent extraordinary behavior, the
overwhelming impression upon the Landgrave, which had formed the
catastrophe of this scenical exhibition,--the consternation of the
great Swedish officers, who were spending the night in Klosterheim, and
reasonably suspected that the tumult might be owing to the sudden
detection of their own _incognito_, and that, in consequence, the
populace of this imperial city were suddenly rising to arms; the
endless distraction and counter-action of so many thousand persons--
visitors, servants, soldiery, household--all hurrying to the same
point, and bringing assistance to a danger of which nobody knew the
origin, nobody the nature, nobody the issue; multitudes commanding
where all obedience was forgotten, all subordination had gone to
wreck;--these circumstances of distraction united to sustain a scene of
absolute frenzy in the castle, which, for more than half an hour, the
dense columns of smoke aggravated alarmingly, by raising, in many
quarters, additional terrors of fire. And when, at last, after infinite
exertions, the soldiery had deployed into the ball-room and the
adjacent apartments of state, and had succeeded, at the point of the
pike, in establishing a safe egress for the twelve hundred visitors, it
was then first ascertained that all traces of The Masque had been lost
in the smoke and subsequent confusion; and that, with his usual good
fortune, he had succeeded in baffling his pursuers.


Meantime the Lady Paulina had spent her time in secret grief,
inconsolable for the supposed tragical fate of Maximilian. It was
believed that he had perished. This opinion had prevailed equally
amongst his friends, and the few enemies whom circumstances had made
him. Supposing even that he had escaped with life from the action, it
seemed inevitable that he should have fallen into the hands of the
bloody Holkerstein; and under circumstances which would point him out
to the vengeance of that cruel ruffian as having been the leader in the
powerful resistance which had robbed him of his prey.

Stung with the sense of her irreparable loss, and the premature grief
which had blighted her early hopes, Paulina sought her refuge in
solitude, and her consolations in religion. In the convent where she
had found a home, the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic service were
maintained with the strictness and the pomp suitable to its ample
endowments. The emperor had himself, as well as several of his
progenitors, been a liberal benefactor to this establishment. And a
lady of his house, therefore, recommended by a special introduction
from the emperor to the attentions of the lady abbess, was sure of
meeting kindness and courtesy in every possible shape which could avail
to mitigate her sorrow. The abbess, though a bigot, was a human being,
with strong human sensibilities; and in both characters she was greatly
pleased with the Lady Paulina. On the one hand, her pride, as the head
of a religious establishment, was flattered by the extreme regularity
of the Lady Paulina in conforming to the ritual of her house; this
example of spiritual obedience and duty seemed peculiarly edifying in a
person of such distinguished rank. On the other hand, her womanly
sensibilities were touched by the spectacle of early and unmerited
sorrow in one so eminent for her personal merits, for her extreme
beauty, and the winning sweetness of her manners. Hence she readily
offered to the young countess all the attentions and marks of sympathy
which her retiring habits permitted, and every species of indulgence
compatible with the spirit of the institution.

The whole convent, nuns as well as strangers, taking their tone from
the abbess, vied with each other in attentions to Paulina. But, whilst
acknowledging their kindness, she continued to shrink from all general
intercourse with the society about her. Her attendance was constant at
the matins and at vespers; not unfrequently even at the midnight
service; but dejection was too rooted in her heart, to allow her any
disposition to enter into the amusements or mixed society which the
convent at that time offered.

Many noble strangers had been allowed to take up their quarters in the
convent. With some of these the abbess was connected by blood; with
others, by ties of ancient friendship. Most of this party composed a
little society apart from the rest, and continued to pursue those
amusements or occupations which properly belonged to their stations and
quality, but by their too worldly nature were calculated to exclude the
religious members of the institution from partaking in them. To this
society Paulina received frequent invitations; which, however, she
declined so uniformly, that at length all efforts ceased to draw her
from the retirement which she so manifestly adhered to from choice. The
motives of her dejection became known throughout the convent, and were
respected; and it was now reported amongst them, from her aversion to
society as well as her increasing devotion, that the Lady Paulina would
soon take the veil.

Amongst the strangers was one, a lady of mature age, with beauty still
powerful enough to fascinate all beholders, who seemed to survey
Paulina with an interest far beyond that of curiosity or simple
admiration. Sorrow might be supposed the common bond which connected
them; for there were rumors amongst the sisterhood of St. Agnes that
this lady had suffered afflictions heavier than fell to an ordinary lot
in the course of the war which now desolated Germany. Her husband (it
was said), of whom no more was known than that he was some officer of
high rank, had perished by the hand of violence; a young daughter, the
only child of two or three who remained to her, had been carried off in
infancy, and no traces remained of her subsequent fate. To these
misfortunes was added the loss of her estates and rank, which, in some
mysterious way, were supposed to be withheld from her by one of those
great oppressors whom war and the policy of great allies had
aggrandized. It was supposed even that for the means of subsistence to
herself, and a few faithful attendants, she was indebted to the
kindness of the lady abbess, with whom she was closely connected by
ancient friendship.

In this tale there were many inaccuracies mixed up with the truth. It
was true that, in some one of the many dire convulsions which had
passed from land to land since the first outbreak of the Bohemian
troubles, in 1618, and which had covered with a veil of political
pretexts so many local acts of private family feud and murderous
treason, this lady had been deprived of her husband by a violent death
under circumstances which still seemed mysterious. But the fate of her
children, if any had survived the calamity which took off her husband,
was unknown to everybody except her confidential protectress, the lady
abbess. By permission of this powerful friend, who had known her from
infancy, and through the whole course of her misfortunes, she was
permitted to take up her abode in the convent, under special
privileges, and was there known by the name of Sister Madeline.

The intercourse of the Sister Madeline with the lady abbess was free
and unreserved. At all hours they entered each other's rooms with the
familiarity of sisters; and it might have been thought that in every
respect they stood upon the equal footing of near relatives, except
that occasionally in the manners of the abbess was traced, or imagined,
a secret air of deference towards the desolate Sister Madeline, which,
as it was not countenanced at all by their present relations to each
other, left people at liberty to build upon it a large superstructure
of romantic conjectures.

Sister Madeline was as regular in her attendance upon prayers as
Paulina. There, if nowhere else, they were sure of meeting; and in no
long time it became evident that the younger lady was an object of
particular interest to the elder. When the sublime fugues of the old
composers for the organ swelled upon the air, and filled the vast
aisles of the chapel with their floating labyrinths of sound, attention
to the offices of the church service being suspended for the time, the
Sister Madeline spent the interval in watching the countenance of
Paulina. Invariably at this period her eyes settled upon the young
countess, and appeared to court some return of attention, by the tender
sympathy which her own features expressed with the grief too legibly
inscribed upon Paulina's. For some time Paulina, absorbed by her own
thoughts, failed to notice this very particular expression of attention
and interest. Accustomed to the gaze of crowds, as well on account of
her beauty as her connection with the imperial house, she found nothing
new or distressing in this attention to herself. After some time,
however, observing herself still haunted by the sister's furtive
glances, she found her own curiosity somewhat awakened in return. The
manners of Sister Madeline were too dignified, and her face expressed
too much of profound feeling, and traces too inextinguishable of the
trials through which she had passed, to allow room for any belief that
she was under the influence of an ordinary curiosity. Paulina was
struck with a confused feeling, that she looked upon features which had
already been familiar to her heart, though disguised in Sister Madeline
by age, by sex, and by the ravages of grief. She had the appearance of
having passed her fiftieth year; but it was probable that, spite of a
brilliant complexion, secret sorrow had worked a natural effect in
giving to her the appearance of age more advanced by seven or eight
years than she had really attained. Time, at all events, if it had
carried off forever her youthful graces, neither had nor seemed likely
to destroy the impression of majestic beauty under eclipse and wane. No
one could fail to read the signs by which the finger of nature
announces a great destiny, and a mind born to command.

Insensibly the two ladies had established a sort of intercourse by
looks; and at length, upon finding that the Sister Madeline mixed no
more than herself in the general society of Klosterheim, Paulina had
resolved to seek the acquaintance of a lady whose deportment announced
that she would prove an interesting acquaintance, whilst her melancholy
story and the expression of her looks were a sort of pledges that she
would be found a sympathizing friend.

She had already taken some steps towards the attainment of her wishes,
when, unexpectedly, on coming out from the vesper service, the Sister
Madeline placed herself by the side of Paulina, and they walked down
one of the long side-aisles together. The saintly memorials about them,
the records of everlasting peace which lay sculptured at their feet,
and the strains which still ascended to heaven from the organ and the
white-robed choir,--all speaking of a rest from trouble so little to be
found on earth, and so powerfully contrasting with the desolations of
poor, harassed Germany,--affected them deeply, and both burst into
tears. At length the elder lady spoke.

"Daughter, you keep your faith piously with him whom you suppose dead."

Paulina started. The other continued--

"Honor to young hearts that are knit together by ties so firm that even
death has no power to dissolve them! Honor to the love which can breed
so deep a sorrow! Yet, even in this world, the good are not
_always_ the unhappy. I doubt not that, even now at vespers, you
forgot not to pray for him that would willingly have died for you."

"0, gracious lady! when--when have I forgot that? What other prayer,
what other image, is ever at my heart?"

"Daughter, I could not doubt it; and Heaven sometimes sends answers to
prayers when they are least expected; and to yours it sends this
through me."

With these words she stretched out a letter to Paulina, who fainted
with sudden surprise and delight, on recognizing the hand of


It was, indeed, the handwriting of her lover; and the first words of
the letter, which bore a recent date, announced his safety and his
recovered health. A rapid sketch of all which had befallen him since
they had last parted informed her that he had been severely wounded in
the action with Holkerstein's people, and probably to that misfortune
had been indebted for his life; since the difficulty of transporting
him on horseback, when unable to sit upright, had compelled the party
charged with his care to leave him for the night at Waldenhausen. From
that place he had been carried off in the night-time to a small
imperial garrison in the neighborhood by the care of two faithful
servants, who had found little difficulty in first intoxicating, and
then overpowering, the small guard judged sufficient for a prisoner so
completely disabled by his wounds. In this garrison he had recovered;
had corresponded with Vienna; had concerted measures with the emperor;


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